For the last few years X:PAND has delivered an annual conference event. At this event every single Xpander comes together in one location, for team building, bonding, and strategic planning for the coming business year and of course, tons and tons of fun.
This year the business ventured off the coast of Singapore to Bintan Island in Indonesia. Itâs easy to assume that the purpose of these types of events is simply to drink, eat and be merry. Whilst those elements indeed are important to these events the real purpose is having each and every person that affects our business in one single location.
Like those ever present MasterCard adverts keep telling us, money can buy certain things, however, the value of having everyone together is priceless.
It gives leadership from other areas of the business - and indeed the world, to see how different offices think and approach certain scenarios they may be faced with. It gives those of us on the ground a chance to meet and share ideas with counterparts we may never have met with or spoken to before, and it gives people new to the business a real sense of just why we are THE PLACE to work in our industry.
The morning of our conference was filled with engagement, getting together in mixed groups from our sites across the APAC region, to tackle a set of questions which stats proved were making our lives more difficult than we wanted them to be. Who better to solve these issues with than those people who represent the same business and the same ideas as you do?
The answers we came up with were perhaps not surprising. The majority of which all focused on us as individuals having better communication with counterparts in different regions and indeed with those in our offices. How we could streamline that and open doors for one another. Does it create a type of blueprint for everyone to help everyone and why? Because we are all striving towards the same thing and want the same outcome, a healthy, reputable, fun and thriving business to be a part of.
After listening to success stories and even a few sad ones we found out what weâd be doing as our team building activity. To our surprise, we were going to work together to give something back to this beautiful island we were visiting. Volunteering to paint schools and do some much-needed landscaping with the local children who spend days at these places serving for a better education. Whilst personally it's one of the most rewarding things I've done in a long time, it also meant a great deal to be able to share those moments with the people we work with day in day out and really take some time to appreciate just how good we have things, both personally and professionally. Seeing a child be so content playing limbo and having crayons to colour with really does put things into perspective, considering the high demands of youth in western society, it was nice to see.
After a day of hard work and being considerably out of our day to day comfort zone, we got to enjoy a final evening of good food, good drinks, and outstanding company. Not to mention some exquisite dancing and what I can only describe as shouty karaoke. Waking up to find myself and colleagues sat in unfamiliar groups at the breakfast tables talking to people you didn't really know 48 hours before really highlighted everything right about taking the time out of a working week to do something like this, we'd gelled. We'd become a better version of X:PAND, a more inclusive environment. We had 6 different offices departing Bintan Island, with old colleagues but new friends, old problems and new solutions and most importantly, an increased togetherness.
I left our kick-off event last year feeling closer to this unique environment I work in, a year and a bit further down the line I find myself feeling the same things I did a year ago, only this time twice as proud and twice as invested in not only the business I work for, but the humans I work with.
Here are some of the highlights from our kickoff.